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Why you may not have received an alert until after 2 tornadoes struck Ottawa

OTTAWA —In the wake of two tornadoes that struck the Barrhaven area of Ottawa, residents have raised concerns about the delayed weather alert system that left some individuals receiving alerts only after the tornadoes had already hit [1][2]. The incidents have prompted discussions about the effectiveness and timeliness of emergency communication systems, leaving many wondering why the alerts were not issued sooner.

According to reports, some residents received weather alerts approximately 15 minutes after the tornadoes had landed. This delay has raised questions about the reliability and efficiency of Environment Canada's weather alert system [1][2]. The Northern Tornadoes Project, which examined the tornadoes, found that they had reached a maximum estimated wind speed of 155 km/h, resulting in minor injuries and damage to around 125 houses [1][2].

One factor contributing to the delay in issuing tornado warnings is the requirement for direct reports or radar observations. While tornado watches serve as preliminary warnings, issuing a tornado warning depends on specific reports or observations, which can lead to delays in the alert system [1][2]. Additionally, the imperfect nature of radar scans, which take approximately six minutes, further contributes to potential delays in issuing warnings [2].

While tornado warnings are crucial for public safety, it is essential to recognize that they are not infallible. Meteorologists and researchers have emphasized the need for continuous improvements in the tornado warning system to enhance its effectiveness and minimize the risks associated with tornadoes [1]. Despite the challenges faced in issuing timely alerts, it is advised that individuals remain vigilant and take appropriate safety measures, especially in areas prone to severe weather events like tornadoes [1][2].

While Environment Canada strives to improve the tornado warning system, it is crucial for individuals to stay informed about weather conditions through various sources and remain prepared for severe weather events. The incidents in Ottawa remind residents of the need for effective communication systems and ongoing efforts to enhance the accuracy and timeliness of weather alerts, ensuring the safety of residents in the face of unpredictable and potentially dangerous weather phenomena.